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Sigh No MoreSigh No More

A revue that used many members of the post-war extended 'Coward family' featuring companion Graham Payn in fine singing voice in the wistful 'Matelot', a difficult song devised espeically for Graham Payn by Coward that reflected many of Coward's personal passions and constant themes, not least his love of life at sea, the poignancy and pain of departing love and the longing for its return.

The show had the 'house band' of Mantovani and His Orchestra both war-time and post-war stalwarts of the radio and the musical theatre, starred Cyril Ritchard, Madge Elliot and Joyce Grenfell - with the delicious 'This is the End of the News', the designer Gladys Calthrop and choreographer Wendy Toye with Norman Hackforth's arrangement of 'Loch Lomond' featured later in Noël's cabaret career in the 1950s at Las Vegas.

This 1945 show described by The Times as, "A light, easy, amusing entertainment, disconcertingly without the impress of a definite style - disconcertingly, because it has been 'written, composed and directed' by Mr. Noël Coward."

It started life at the Opera House, Manchester in July and moved to the Piccadilly Theatre in London a month later. It ran for a respectable 213 performances closing on 23 February 1946.

Despite its rather indifferent success, it produced songs that that were to feature in Coward's Las Vegas excursion and at other times in his career.

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Sigh No More

Part I

1. Sigh No More; 2. Du Maurier; 3. Parting of the Ways; 4. Language - French - Troops, For the Use Of; 5. Mother And Daughter; 6. Indian Army Officer; 7. Music Hath Charms; 8. Never Again; 9. This Is The End Of The News; 10. Loch Lomond; 11. Pageant.

Part II

12. Mantovani And His Orchestr; 13. Willy; 14. Wait A Bit Joe; 15. Travelling Broadens The Mind; 16. Nina; 17. The Merrry Wives Of Windsor; 18. Matelot; 19. Blithe Spirit Ballet; 20. The Burchells of Battersea Rise, Finale: Sigh No More.

Part 1

Sigh No More – Harlequin and Singing Silphides (Payne and ladies)
DuMaurier – Society Lady (Grenfell; music by Richard Addinsell; lyrics by Grenfell)
The Parting of the Ways – Lenora and Michael (Elliott and Ritchard)
Mother and Daughter – The Mother and the Daughter (Gwen Bateman and Joy O'Neill)
I Wonder What Happened to Him? – Indian Army Officer (Ritchard)
Music Hath Charms – Miss Lawson and others (Elliott and others; music & lyrics by Norman Hackforth)
Never Again – The Singer and Extras (Payn and ensemble)
This Is the End of the News – (Grenfell)
Loch Lomond – (Gail Kendal; arrangement by Hackforth)
Pageant – Company

Part 2

Willy – Willy, Good Angel and Bad Angel (Tom Linden, Elliott and Ritchard)
Wait a Bit, Joe – Payn
Travelling Broadens the Mind – Grenfell (written by her)
Nina (from Argentina) (parodying "Begin the Beguine") – Gigolo, Nina and Singer (Linden, Kendal and Ritchard)
The Merry Wives of Windsor – Mrs. Macadoo, Ladies and Private Niven (Elliott, Ladies and Ritchard)
Matelot – Payn
Blithe Spirit Ballet – Linden and others
The Burchells of Battersea Rise – Ritchard, Elliott, Grenfell and Payn
Japanese spies – Elliott and Ritchard (cut from the show in tryouts; was not performed in London)
Finale, Sigh No More – Entire Company

 

Sigh No MoreGraham Payn

1) CD: PLATCD 118
2) CD: Sepia 1043 (2005)
3) 78: Details unknown

1): That Is the End of the News (Joyce Grenfell)

2):Matelot (Graham Payn) Sigh No More (Graham Payn)

3): I Wonder What Happened to Him (Cyril Ritchard), Nina (Cyril Ritchard)
(Lp: EMI Retrospect SH 507 includes Graham Payn singing the above two songs as part of medleys.)

All of the recordings featured the Piccadilly Theatre Orchestra conducted by Mantovani.

The Times singled out for praise the songs "Nina", about a South American beauty who hates Latin American dancing and falls in love with a sailor with a wooden leg. "I Wonder What Happened to Him?", in which army officers reminisce about colleagues in India; "The Burchells of Battersea Rise", about suburban life; and "That is the End of the News". In the last, Grenfell was "the insanely cheerful schoolgirl greeting each fresh family misfortune with an ecstatic grin".

The Manchester Guardian also praised Coward's song "Matelot", sung by Graham Payn; the title song, "Sigh No More", sung by Ritchard; "Old Soldiers Never Die" sung by Cliff Gordon; "Willy", in which troupes of good and bad angels strive vigorously for the direction of a small boy’s future life; and a Blithe Spirit ballet.

Ivor Brown in The Observer thought that the ballet could have been dropped, but praised the rest of the show.

The musical director was Mantovani, of whom The Manchester Guardian said that he and his orchestra "might be presented as the biggest and most successful 'star turn' of the whole production"

The original cast featured Cyril Ritchard and his wife Madge Elliott and Joyce Grenfell. And West End newcomer Graham Payn in some of his greatest moments on the stage.

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